Phase change plays a prominent role in determining the form of growth and development. Although considerable attention has been focused on identifying the regulatory control mechanisms of phase change, a detailed understanding of the genetic architecture of this phenomenon is still lacking. We address this issue by deriving a computational model. The model is founded on the framework of functional mapping aimed at characterizing the interplay between quantitative trait loci (QTLs) and development through biologically meaningful mathematical equations. A multiphasic growth equation was implemented into functional mapping, which, via a series of hypothesis tests, allows the quantification of how QTLs regulate the timing and pattern of vegetative phase transition between independently regulated, temporally coordinated processes. The model was applied to analyze stem radial growth data of an interspecific hybrid family derived from two Populus species during the first 24 yr of ontogeny. Several key QTLs related to phase change have been characterized, most of which were observed to be in the adjacent regions of candidate genes. The identification of phase transition QTLs, whose expression is regulated by endogenous and environmental signals, may enhance our understanding of the evolution of development in changing environments.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science